The Tigers salvaged a doubleheader split with an 8-6 win over the Twins on Saturday night. On Sunday, they'll go for a split of the four-game series at Target field.
Detroit has allowed 38 runs in its last three games -- the six the team allowed in Game 2 on Saturday was the first time its staff didn't allow double-digits in the series. But in the finale, the Tigers are relying on Max Scherzer to get the job done.
The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, Scherzer has racked up 34 strikeouts in his last three starts, doing so in 23 innings. His nine-strikeout showing in his last start, against Toronto, gave the right-hander 205 punchouts for the season and marked the third straight year in which he's struck out at least 200 hitters.
"That was my mindset coming into this year: I was going to be a better pitcher than I was last year," Scherzer said last week. "Take all the numbers, throw them out. I'm not referencing wins and losses or anything. If you look at how I'm pitching and what I'm able to execute, I'm executing all my pitches at a higher level right now."
The Tigers have notched wins in both of Scherzer's last two starts, wins that are very valuable as Detroit remains on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. The Tigers are three games behind Kansas City in the AL Central, and one back of Seattle for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Detroit will go for win No. 70 on the season against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson.
A second-year Major Leaguer, Gibson will be making his 25th start of the season for Minnesota. The 6-foot-6 26-year-old right-hander has allowed five runs in two of his last three starts. This includes his last outing, when he gave up five runs on eight hits to the Indians in 5 1/3 innings and could not cash in on a 5-0 lead he was spotted.
"I didn't have my best stuff. I was battling," Gibson said afterward. "I definitely didn't do a good job of pitching with the lead. It's just a bad job. The offense does a great job scoring five runs. ... To just give it away slowly and give all the momentum back is the opposite of my job."
Twins: Offense scoring in bunches during series
The 20 runs the Twins scored Friday was a season high, and the most they've had cross the plate in a game since scoring two dozen on May 21, 2009.
They followed up that surplus with 12 runs in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader, marking the fourth time this season Minnesota has scored at least a dozen times in a game. All of those instances have come since July 13.
"Baseball goes like that sometimes," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Hitting is contagious. You can feel it in the dugout. These guys are anxious to go up there and swing. It happens sometimes."
Tigers: Tigers come up short in Castillo sweepstakes
The Tigers were very much interested in inking a contract with Rusney Castillo, but their bid for the Cuban center fielder came up empty, as he signed a deal with the Red Sox on Saturday.
Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski confirmed Friday that his club was in talks with Castillo's agents and that Detroit made him an offer. However, it did not match Boston's six-year, $72 milion bid that landed Castillo.
"They wanted our best offer right off the bat," Dombrowski said. "We made them a best offer at that point. It was, without getting into specifics, in a rumored area of various offers that were out there. They called us back this past Monday and told us that we were out, that we were not even in the neighborhood of clubs that were going to sign him, that they had substantial offers better than ours."
• The Twins' Trevor Plouffe hit two more doubles Saturday, raising his season total to 36. He ranks second in the AL in two-baggers, trailing only the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera (40).
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.